Winded by VIP MLAs’ defection to BJP, Mukesh Sahani finds his politics at crossroads

On Tuesday, Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) chief and Bihar animal husbandry and fisheries minister Mukesh Sahani said his move to switch from the RJD-led grand alliance to the NDA camp ahead of the 2020 Bihar Assembly polls was a “mistake”. The EBC Mallah leader was perhaps anticipating a severe political blow the next day.

?️ Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access the best Election reporting and analysis ?️

In a major setback for Sahani, all his three MLAs – Raju Kumar Singh (Sahebganj), Misri Lal Yadav (Alinagar) and Swarna Singh (Gaura Bouram) – met Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha on Wednesday evening, seeking their dissociation with the VIP and merger with the BJP.

In the 2020 Bihar polls, the BJP had allotted 11 seats to the VIP from its NDA quota. The VIP contested from these seats and won 4. The three VIP MLAs owed their allegiance to the BJP unofficially from the beginning.

Sahani, who had lost his own Assembly election, was made a Member of the Bihar Legislative Council (MLC) by the BJP to enable him to become a minister. The saffron party had however not given Sahani a full-term MLC berth. His MLC tenure is to expire this July. Now that his party is not likely to be part of the NDA, he could not get another MLC term from the BJP and may well have to resign as the minister soon.

The inclusion of the three VIP MLAs in the BJP Legislature Party would make the saffron party the single largest party in the Bihar Assembly with 77 seats – 2 more than than the RJD’s 75 seats. Though the BJP had won 91 seats in the 2010 Bihar Assembly polls, it is going to be the first time when the BJP becomes the single largest party.

The rebel VIP MLAs’ move will have no impact on the fate of the Nitish Kumar-led JD(U)-BJP government in Bihar, as the NDA’s tally will stand at 126 in the 243-member House.

The development would however give the BJP a psychological edge over the JD(U), even though the former has all along remained the senior alliance partner.

With the BJP winning the recent Assembly elections easily in four states, including Uttar Pradesh, the party has further reinforced its advantage over the JD(U), with the latter appearing to have exhausted all its options except another switchover to the RJD coalition, which would be unlikely with Tejashwi Yadav, who is at the helm of the RJD, taking centre stage in state politics on his own.

It would be puerile to dismiss Sahani, though. He angered the BJP by fielding about 52 candidates in the UP polls and later by fielding seven candidates against it in the upcoming Bihar MLC polls for 24 seats. The BJP hit back by fielding its candidate from the coming Bochaha (Muzaffarpur) bypoll necessitated after the death of incumbent VIP MLA Musafir Paswan.

The Sahani-led outfit, however, did register its presence in the politically-crucial UP that has a sizeable EBC Nishad/ Kevat (Mallah) population. In Bihar, Mallahs are a prominent EBC community, which is concentrated in Muzaffarpur, Madhubani and Darbhanga districts.

After former MP Captain Jaynarayan Nishad, Mukesh Sahani has emerged as the biggest Mallah leader. In a hurry to expand his base, an ambitious Sahani has, however, suffered political setbacks. He had fallen out with the RJD because he had demanded that he should be projected as the Deputy CM face in the 2020 polls.

Sahani’s option to return to the RJD-led coalition will remain open as Tejashwi has been looking for a winning alliance combination.

The RJD-led alliance had got 110 seats in the 2020 Bihar polls, which was just 13 seats short of a majority. Sahani may have lost the plot for now, but he is among the Bihar leaders the BJP has remained wary of. All the parties are aware of the electoral significance of floating EBC votes. This is where Sahani’s political salience stems from. He may thus wait in the wings for some time before seizing on his opportunity to reinvent himself in order to stage a comeback in Bihar politics.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button